Sneaky Vampire Syndicate Attempts Fair NFT Launch

By BussTechno | BussTechno | 13 Sep 2021

If you missed my original post on the Sneaky Vampire Syndicate (SVS) NFTs- go ahead and take a look into the project.  SVS is still young and like most new NFT projects will need time to fully develop.  You may be able to catch a good price on OpenSea later this week as most projects will see an initial dip in the floor price following their reveals/rarity score.  Currently they are sitting around a 1 ETH floor.  If you caught it and were able to mint or buy on the secondary early...Congratulations!  You're gonna have a good time.  

The Problems

  • Everyone that deals with Ethereum is well aware of the disgustingly high gas prices.  Majorly hyped NFT launches, such as The Sevens [debacle], have created enormous gas wars that price out low ETH wallet holders.  Allowing only the fattest of whales to participate as they spend a few Ethereum to out bid everyone else's gas to jump to the front of the line.
  • Bots suck.  They are magnitudes faster than human input, can interact directly with a smart contract, and set gas prices to a point that small wallets are priced out.

The Solutions

SVS attempted to develop a fair launch project that could potentially be the basis for future NFT Launches.

1. They enabled a FCFS (first come first serve) registration on the public sale that went live at 1500 EST on Sunday 12 September 2021.  Individuals chose the number they wanted to mint (max 3) and performed a challenge with the SVS website.  No ETH was spent to secure the slot but it did check your wallet to ensure there was enough Ethereum available for the requested number of vamps.  If you were fast enough to secure a minting slot you had 4 hours to mint your Sneaky Vamp(s).  This in itself killed most of the worry over a gas war occurring.  This was a last minute change to the public sale that was released 14 hours prior to the public launch. 

2. The Dev Team had a plan of attack to stop a majority of bot traffic prior to their last minute public sale procedural update.  They didn't allow minting interaction with the smart contract like many other projects do- cutting out bot front running and jacking up the cost of gas.  They followed up by adding a human answerable challenge question to the mint registration basically removing any possible bot interaction.

What Actually Occurred

  • Last minute changes including: lowering the allowed mint from 5 to 3 in the public launch, adding an additional bot protection of a human answerable question (more on that in a sec), and a rushed secondary mint of unused slots caused technical issues.  This also caused the initial mint to be pushed back two hours later than the planned time.
  • Their servers were unable to resolve the traffic load that inundated it and knocked out thousands of participant queries.

Let's start with the human answerable question:  The captcha stated "Type out the number ____" ( where __ was the inserted numeric value ranging between 1 and at least 18).   This was misunderstood by many people- especially non-native English speakers.  As type the number and spell the number have very specific meanings- the intent was to spell the number. It also was different for each person, for instance my number was 5 (or "five" when typed inside the captcha).  So, some people typed 'one' and others typed 'eighteen'- which doesn't really seem like a big deal except when you are dealing in milliseconds to secure a mint slot.

Another major technical issue occurred with the influx of simultaneous queries hitting their servers.  When the count down clock hit zero an approximate 30K or more systems attempted to communicate with their servers within seconds.  Their infrastructure was unable to handle the load.  The Dev Team is yet to acknowledge this event, however it is majorly obvious that they created an inadvertent Denial of Service (DoS) attack on themselves.  There are multiple reports of people who did not get a mint slot who correctly completed the captcha within seconds while others who were late and completed the captcha after 30 seconds did receive a mint slot.  I personally correctly typed my answer within 5-7 seconds and did not receive a mint slot.

The final major technical issue occurred during the secondary mint where around 180 mint slots were available.  This was extremely rushed and and did not function correctly.  The Web Devs were not prepared and had to push back the secondary mint 15 minutes.  The second attempt of the secondary mint was again broken and caused another self-induced DoS attack.  I personally was able to connect my wallet on the first attempt of the secondary mint, but once it was pushed back I could no longer connect my wallet until 5 minutes after the slot request had started.  The webpage was frozen and would not update.  Considering the first slot request of 8000 mints closed within 5 minutes there was definitely no chance for me in the secondary.  By the time my wallet was allowed to connect the slot request was over.

What They Did Well

  • They implemented procedures that pretty much removed bot participation.
  • The average gas used for mint of each Vamp was about .05 ETH.  Which for a hyped project such as this is pretty amazing.
  • They lowered the number of mints per transaction to 3 to attempt to get a larger number of different participants

What Can Be Gleaned for Other Projects

  • Ensure your backend can support the traffic load
  • Last minute unplanned changes are rarely good ideas- even if their intent is altruistic
  • There are out-of-the-box common sense procedures that can be implemented to lower gas fees and gain maximum participants
  • Follow SVS' lead and do not allow smart contract interaction

This mint didn't work out the way I hoped for me, but I'm not too worried about it.  I would have liked to get a mint slot, but I will just wait until after the reveal when the price drops and I'll sweep the floor for a couple.  They had some serious technical issues that left many dissatisfied people, however their intent to create a fair drop was obvious.

The SVS launch isn't going to be the roadmap for other projects that I initially thought it might be.  It does however provide a start for improvement on the way most NFT launches occur.

Thanks for reading and following.

Author's disclosure: I own Ethereum and plan to purchase SVS NFTs on the secondary market.




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